Bethesda's Suit Against Interplay Continues

by Matt Miller on Apr 23, 2010 at 09:55 AM

Despite recent rumors to the contrary, Bethesda's lawsuit against Interplay surrounding rights to the Fallout MMO continues, according to a comment from Bethesda.

After a long legal battle over the rights to creating a Fallout MMO, rumors surfaced earlier this week that Bethesda had opted to discontinue its appeal against Interplay. As it turns out, that rumor turns out to be only a half-truth.

"Bethesda Softworks voluntarily dismissed its appeal as that related only to a preliminary injunction, not a complete resolution," reads an official statement we elicited from Bethesda's Pete Hines. "All claims in Bethesda's complaint against Interplay remain pending in their entirety and will be pursued actively." Given that information, it seems likely that a full resolution of the issue may still be many months away.

The story of Fallout's legal "custody" is a long and complicated one. Bethesda originally licensed the rights to create Fallout games from Interplay way back in 2004. In 2007, Bethesda took the next logical step and purchased the Fallout IP from Interplay for $5.75 Million. In the interim, Interplay had announced plans to create a Fallout MMO – an option they retained after the 2007 sale. However, under the agreement, Interplay was required to begin production of the new MMO within two years of the agreement, and secure a hefty portion of funding ($30 million), or it would forfeit its rights to the MMO license. In 2009, Bethesda sued Interplay, citing a lack of progress on the MMO, and also claiming a breach of contract surrounding Interplay's release of a "Fallout Trilogy" set that included the earlier games in the series. By the end of 2009, the initial suit was resolved in Interplay's favor. It is that final ruling that Bethesda is now appealing.

Get all that? So what's the takeaway here, and why should we as gamers care? Well, it depends a lot on your current opinion of the Fallout franchise. Some fans would love to see Interplay get a chance at producing an MMO in the Fallout universe, as it might result in a project with strong ties to the early PC games in the series. However, Interplay is not currently a company with extensive resources, so it would be natural to worry about the potential problems that might crop up during the expensive process of crafting an MMO. On the Bethesda side, it could certainly be great to have the entire Fallout franchise moving forward under a unified banner and publisher, but Bethesda has no announced plans for a Fallout MMO of their own – if they obtain those rights, they may not be used anytime soon.

What's your opinion of the situation? Independent of legal issues, would Bethesda or Interplay be a better steward to the Fallout MMO rights? On a more fundamental level, would you have any interest in a Fallout MMO if it ever released?